At least four Chinese warships shadowed the US Navy’s guided missile destroyer USS Higgins and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver as they sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.
According to a Taiwan News report, the transit was likely escorted by a Taiwanese military ship. The report quoted independent journalist Duan Dong, who had posted an image of the Sentinel-2 optical imaging satellite on Twitter.
Duan told Taiwan News that four of the ships were from the People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) Navy.
The US destroyer and a Canadian frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday in the latest joint operation to bolster the route’s status as an international waterway. China had described the passage as “provocative” and said its navy was on high alert.
“The PLA East Theater Command troops are on high alert at all times to resolutely face any threat and provocation and uphold China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Shi Yi, spokesman for the PLA East Theater Command.
After transiting the USS Higgins and HMCS Vancouver, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense (MND) also reported pursuit of Chinese military aircraft and four naval vessels around the island.
According to the report, the image posted to Twitter shows two PLAN ships sailing on opposite sides of the centerline from HMCS Vancouver and USS Higgins. Behind the Higgins are three more warships: one directly east of the centerline and two more south of the American warship.
The Taiwan News report, which quoted Duan, said at least one of the PLAN ships was a Type 054A frigate. It was likely that the other three were frigates as well.
Given that Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has announced only four PLAN ships, the fifth ship, seen behind the US and Canadian ships in the satellite image, could be from the Taiwan Navy, the report added.
The Taiwan Strait is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. Beijing, which considers self-governing Taiwan part of its territory, also claims ownership of the strait.
The US has long used cross-strait “freedom of navigation” passages to resist Chinese claims, and Western allies have increasingly joined these operations.
The USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver, “performed a routine transit across the Taiwan Strait on September 20 … in accordance with international law,” the US Navy Seventh Fleet said.
“The ship passed through a corridor in the strait that lies beyond the territorial sea of a coastal state.”
Canada said HMCS Vancouver is on course to join an ongoing mission to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea if it transits on the USS Higgins.
The last time US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait was 11 months ago when the destroyer USS Dewey and the frigate HMCS Winnipeg made the voyage.
Tensions between China and Taiwan have been running high since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, prompting Beijing to respond by ordering several days of military drills. China is also angered by developments in Washington, which it says indicate a shift in US policy away from long-held one-China policy toward Taiwan independence.
https://www.ibtimes.com.au/satellite-image-shows-4-pla-warships-shadowing-us-destroyer-canadian-frigate-taiwan-strait-1838628?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Satellite image shows 4 PLA warships shadowing a US destroyer and a Canadian frigate in the Taiwan Strait